Alpha transparency with PNG in Photoshop

Almost every compositing program out there has a simple option to view or hide the transparency in an image based on its alpha channel for file types like PNG, TIF, etc. However, Photoshop is the stubborn holdout that doesn’t make this process obvious or easy. Plugins have worked in the past (like SuperPNG) but sometimes don’t work as expected when saving or loading images.

But rest assured that even though Photoshop doesn’t display the areas of an image masked by the alpha channel by default, the data is still there and can be retrieved with the following steps:

1. Open your PNG as normal (either File>Open or drag-n-drop)
2. Click Layer>Layer Mask>From Transparency
3. Right click the newly created layer mask in the Layers panel and chose Disable Layer Mask.

Now you not only have your image information back, but you also have your alpha as a layer mask which is generally very helpful in compositing.

Thanks go to conroy for his help at this post on the Adobe Forums